Luke 2:15 (ESV)
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
For an occasion as important as the birth of Jesus, one song just isn't enough! Charles Wesley--who wrote almost 9,000 hymns--wrote his own song about Jesus' birth. His original version started with "Hark, how all the welkin rings," but thankfully for us, his friend George Whitefield changed it to what we sing today. The song starts by calling us to listen to the angels singing about Jesus' birth. Hark basically means "listen up!" and herald angels are messengers from God who have a really important message. While "Angels We Have Heard on High" tells the story of the shepherds, Wesley's hymn starts there but goes on to say who Jesus is, and to marvel at the mystery of God being born as a tiny little baby.
So, who is that newborn that the angels sang about? Wesley explains that he is the king who will bring peace between God and sinners, and that even though he is adored by even the most important and impressive beings in heaven, he was pleased to become a man "veiled in flesh" on the earth. Wesley imagines Jesus as a frail little baby and yet calls us to "Hail" (which is like cheering for somebody) him because he is the Prince of peace who brings light, life, and healing to all. The hymn's final stanza sings about the work of Christ as the second Adam, which erases the image of Adam (representing sinful man) and stamps us with the image of Christ. Singing this hymn not only celebrates Jesus' birth, it also reminds us of the larger picture of what he did with his life, death, resurrection and ascension.
Dear Lord, we thank You that the angels came to share the God news of Your birth. But more importantly what You did later on the cross an raising from the grave. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.